BLOOMINGTON – Tom Crean knows his no-stone-unturned approach to the spring recruiting period has its share of obstacles.
The late signing period officially got underway Thursday, and the first-year IU coach is making every effort to piece together a group of players that can have a significant impact on next year's fortunes. While the majority of the top players in the '08 class have largely been spoken for, quality options such as Verdell Jones, Nick Williams, Tyshaun Taylor, Josh Harrellson and even Devin Ebanks remain.
But Crean has a handful of obstacles in his path.
First of all, he is less than three weeks into his new job, so he and his staff are just now building relationships with some of the recruiting targets. Making that even more difficult is the fact Crean has inherited Kelvin Sampson's sanctions, which limits the number of phone calls the staff can make while also preventing Crean from going on the road or welcoming any recruits to Bloomington for paid official visits.
"It's a challenge," Crean said Thursday. "When they can't see you in their home or school, there's no question we're feeling the effects of that."
Instead of heading out on the road to make some late in-home visits with prospective recruits, Crean has had to stay back and send recently-named assistants Tim Buckley and Bennie Seltzer in his place. There's a degree of comfort doing that since Crean is so familiar with both from their days on his Marquette staff, but it's obvious Crean would like to be handling some of these visits as well to sell his vision of IU basketball.
IU's efforts are also hindered by its recruiting competition, many of whom aren't shy about voicing their opinions about what will happen when IU officials appear before the NCAA Infractions Committee in June. IU is still waiting for a final ruling on the NCAA's charges of five major recruiting violations committed by Sampson's staff.
"I didn't realize there were so many lawyers coaching college basketball right now because everyone is throwing out those opinions about what is going to happen sanction-wise," Crean said. "And that's all they're doing – throwing out opinions."
Whether that's negative recruiting or not is for someone else to decide, but Crean is well aware of the fact that there aren't a lot of people singing the praises of the IU program right now.
"We're sitting in a position right now where people are trying to do everything they can do to make their points about what Indiana is not," Crean said. "What I'd say to that is get your licks in now, because it's not going to be that way for very long."
It's a challenging and sometimes frustrating process that Crean knew he was inheriting when he took the job earlier this month. But he knows the degree of uncertainty will soon be sorted out, and he's looking forward to that day. In the meantime he's looking to make the best of a difficult situation this spring before moving on to the 2009, 2010 and 2011 classes.
"We can't get down if we don't get somebody," Crean said. "We just got here."
There's also something to be said for having some flexibility with future recruiting classes. Indiana already has a pair of verbals for the '09 class – Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston – and Crean's staff has its foot in the door with plenty of other top targets such as Stephan Van Treese and Roger Franklin, among others.
"I remind our staff the first year at Marquette, we didn't use the one scholarship we had, because we wanted four instead of three going into the fall," Crean said. "That fourth one was used on Dwyane Wade. That worked out pretty well."
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Crean Talks '08 Recruiting
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